PIB: National Knowledge Network gets Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) approval

Following is from http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=59877.

Subject: Proposal for Setting up of National Knowledge Network (NKN)

  14:24 IST

CCI Decision



Decision:  Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure has approved the establishment of the National Knowledge Network (NKN) at an outlay of Rs.5990 crore to be implemented by NIC over a period of 10 years.


Point-wise details


1.                   Background: 


1.1 One of the important recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) is to inter-connect all knowledge institutions through high speed data communication network. This would encourage sharing of knowledge, specialized resources and collaborative research.

1.2   The Government’s decision to set up such a National Knowledge Network was announced by the Finance Minister in the Budget speech of 2008-09. An initial amount of Rs.100 crore for FY 2008-09 was allocated to the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and IT for establishing the National Knowledge Network. A high level committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, to coordinate and monitor the establishment of the NKN.


2.                   Implementation strategy and targets:


2.1 The architecture of the National Knowledge Network will be scalable and the network will consist of an ultra-high speed core (multiples of 10 Gbps and upwards).  The core shall be complemented with a distribution layer at appropriate speeds. The participating institutions can connect to the NKN at speeds of 1 Gbps or to the distribution layer through a last mile connectivity bandwidth.

2.2 The NKN will provide nation-wide ultra high speed backbone/data-network highway. Various other networks in the country can take advantage of this ultra high speed backbone, with national and international reach to create independent and closed user groups.

2.3 The NKN will have about 25 core Point of Presence (PoPs) and 600 secondary PoPs. It will connect around 1500 institutions. The Physical Infrastructure (setting up of core network) is expected to be completed in a span of 24 months.


3.                   Major Impact:


3.1  NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from diverse spheres across the country to work together for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas. NKN willcatalyse knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer between stakeholders seamlessly – that too across the nation and globally. NKN is expected to encourage a larger section of research and educational institutions to create intellectual property. NKN would enable use of specialized applications, which allow sharing of high performance computing facilities, e-libraries, virtual classrooms and very large databases.

3.2 Health, Education, Grid Computing, Agriculture and e-Governance are the main applications identified for implementation and delivery on NKN. Applications such as countrywide classrooms will address the issue of faculty shortage and ensure quality education delivery across the country. The crux of the success of the Knowledge Network is related to the education related applications, databases and delivery of services to the users on demand.


4.                   Current status of initial phase


            In the initial phase, a core Backbone consisting of 15 Points of Presence (PoPs) have been established with 2.5 Gbps capacity.  Around 40 institutions of higher learning and advanced research have already been connected to the network and 6 virtual classrooms set up.




March 26th, 2010

Knowledge Commission has recommended 50 national universities; Orissa must plan ahead and be prepared for it

Update: The following was written before I saw this article in Pioneer.

Tathya.in has a report on Dr. Digamabara Patra’s request for a national or central university in Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi. A lot of the arguments made there make sense. Many of the recent central universities have been established in rural and semi-urban areas and indeed there is no reason why one should not be established in Bhawanipatna; especially since its citizens have been asking for one for more than 2 decades.

However, as mentioned in the article http://www.orissalinks.com/archives/3229 adequate infrastructure seems to have been an important factor in determining the locations of the new IITs, IIMs and National universities. 

For Orissa to have them in locations ouside of Bhubaneswar, there are two ways to go about it.

  1. Argue that adequate infrastructure should not be a requirement or they will automatically come once the institutions are established.
  2. Develop areas outside Bhubaneswar to have adequate infrastructure.

To me pursuing (2) has a higher chance of success than pursuing (1) and even if (1) is successful the institutes/universities in locations without appropriate infrastructure will struggle until the infrastructure eventually catches up which may take a long time if just left to fate. (Such a struggle may result in Orissa not being given in appropriate numbers additional central/national institutes.) 

[In India people sometime point out that IIT Kharagpur was established in a rural location. First, Kharagpur is only 116 kms from Howrah. Second it has been a major railway junction for a long time. Third it was the first IIT and for a long time only one of 5 IITs. Similarly Roorkee was the oldest engineering college and is close to Haridwar and Dehradun. There are a few top universities and institutions in the US that are in rural areas, but these are exceptions, and the infrastructure in rural areas of US are quite good compared to rural areas of India. For example, Univ of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Penn State University in State College, PA are often mentioned in that context. But both do have small airports with commercial flights.]

Before we suggest what needs to be done regarding developing areas outside Bhubaneswar to have adequate infrastructure, let us address what may be coming in the future and why Orissa needs to do this urgently so as to not risk missing future allocations of national institutions.

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) in its December 2006 note on higher education has explicitly suggested 50 national universities in India. It says:

We recommend the creation of up to 50 National Universities that can provide education of the highest standard. As exemplars for the rest of the nation, these universities shall train students in a variety of disciplines, including  humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, commerce and professional subjects, at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The number 50 is a long term objective. In the short run, it is important to begin with at least 10 such universities in the next 3 years. It is worth noting that the National Universities need not all be new universities. Some of the existing universities could also be converted into National Universities, on the basis of rigorous selection criteria, to act as exemplars. We recognise that there could be a human resource constraint if faculty members are not available in adequate numbers to establish these universities.

The current government has implemented most of the recommendations of the NKC and exceeded some of them. For example, instead of the recommendation of 10 national universities in the three years following the report (2007-2010), establishment of 14 have been announced. Moreover, the higher education budget has been increasing drastically from one five year plan to the next. The 12th five year plan starts in 2012 and it is expected that it will take up on the long range objectives of the knowledge commission. In other words there could and should be more central and national universities in the 12th plan.

[My impression is that how soon additional national universities are established will depend on the success of the first 14. It seems to me that the locations of the first 14 have been greatly influenced by the consideration of, where in each of the states selecetd,  does it have the best chance to succeed.]

Unless Orissa is prepared for it, Orissa may lose out pieces of those plans on lack of infrastructure grounds. Other states with multiple locations with adequate infrastructure will get preference and Orissa may lose out.

However, 2012 is still 3 years away and if adequate steps are taken very soon, Orissa should be able to get its fair share. 

The pity is there are areas in Orissa which are on the verge of having the necessary infrastructure, mostly through private investment, but because of non-constructive opposition, blind suspicion towards industrialization and the relcucatnce of many to speak out in favour of development and industrialization, the development and associated infrastructure building has been greatly hampered. The governments (state and center) are also at fault for their sluggishness on some aspects.

Following are some suggestions:

  1. The state government should push for the completion of the airport in Jharsuguda within a year.
  2. It should make an all-out effort to have commercial flights operating out of the existing airport in Rourkela. In general, the people of the area need to recognize the existing infrastructure and potential of Rourkela and take advantage of it. Currently, as a friend of mine would say, Rourkela is an orphan. This is a pity. It is a big asset to Orissa, especially to the western parts of Orissa; but is severely underutilized and undermined.
  3. Coming back to Jharsuguda, the people there should follow a smarter approach in not opposing and rather facilitating industries coming up there, and at the same time being vigilant about environmental and land acquisition related R & R issues. If these industries and investment are allowed to materialize there soon, then Sambalpur-Jharsuguda area would become a large metro with adequate infrastructure to have and support any and all kinds of institutes and universities. But will the people do that? Or will they continue to be controlled by or scared of the anti-industry activists.
  4. Similarly, both Bhawanipatna (Lanjigarh to be precise) and Rayagada areas have industrial investors who have been senselessly opposed. If the people would take a smarter approach that mixes development with being vigilant about environmental and land acquisition related R & R then both these areas would be able to get infrastructure where a central university (and possibly more) would flourish. But will the people do that? Or will they continue to be controlled by or scared of anti-industry activists. In Lanjigarh, Kalahandi, the local MP has recently taken a more sensible approach. I hope there is a quick resolution as this area desperately needs development and the resulting infrastructure.
  5. The state government should push for the rail infrastructure, particularly, the Khurda-Balangir line, the Talcher-Bimlagarh line and connectivity to Kalahandi, to be completed at the earliest.

The above is extremely important for the development of the western parts of Orissa where there is often a feeling of neglect. If the people there do not follow a smarter approach and only follow the strange approach that many (not all) seem to be following (such as opposing industrialization and thus infrastructure building but wanting things that need infrastructure) the places that follow a smarter approach (inside and outside Orissa) would be gainers. The same is happening in some other places in Orissa too  – Paradeep and Kalinganagar come to mind, but these places are in closer proximity to Bhubaneswar and because of that they may be less harmed.



October 4th, 2009

Selected HRD headlines from our Twitter site

Following is from our twitter site http://twitter.com/orissalinks.

  • Besides Frankfinn Bhubaneswar also has an Air hostess Academy. http://airhostessacademy.co…
  • New web site of Human Development Foundation at http://www.hdf.ac.in is now active.
  • So far 18+1 (director) new faculty have joined NISER Bhubaneswar. http://niser.ac.in/faculty.php 13 more have been offered.
  • NISER Bhubaneswar permanent faculty: Phy (7), Bio (4), Math (3), Chemistry (4+1 Director)
  • TOI http://bit.ly/18efsq Utkal university Bhubaneswar signs MoU with Central council for research in ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS)
  • kalahandia> e-admission kicked off in Orissa for junior colleges: e-admission kicked off Tathya.in.. http://bit.ly/42CD3
  • IIT Bhubaneswar Director could have been more imaginative in the IIT Diro’s meeting. http://bit.ly/1avLnx IIT Hyderabad D most impressive.
  • Sand artist Sudarsan teams up with Vedanta University in Puri (near Bhubaneswar) http://bit.ly/4i2ql
  • Sibal asked the IITs to expand into new areas like medicine and law and evolve a framework in this regard. http://bit.ly/qjTRI
  • orissalinksSibal: “For eg, IIT-Kharagpur can have its campus in Delhi too. Spread your wings like an octopus, I will support you.” http://bit.ly/164HC5
  • orissalinksSibal: "Why can’t you have a law school inside your campus. Why can’t an engineering student learn about management, economics and biology?”
  • orissalinksIIT Bhubaneswar is just starting so it can not spread wings or have medical schools that soon. But NIT Rourkela can. We should push.
  • orissalinkskalahandia> Saraswati Shishu Vidya Mandirs perform exceptionally well in Orissa: Sangh schools sco.. http://bit.ly/HvlYs
  • orissalinkskalahandia> Dr. Sanjib Kumar Karmee’s Letter to CM of Orissa on Medical College in Balangir: Dear .. http://bit.ly/PXtcL
  • orissalinkskalahandia> Bhubaneswar to have railway medical college: Mamata Banerjee announces slew of staff-f.. http://bit.ly/HtNZA
  • orissalinks.com> Orissa state cabinet approves bills for Vedanta, Sri Sri and ICFAI Universities: Following is an e.. http://bit.ly/hmqXI
  • orissalinkskalahandia> Why not an IIM at Burla-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda (BSJ) region?: Orissa likely to miss IIM .. http://bit.ly/UqN2h
  • orissalinkskalahandia> Biju Patnaik Rural varsity to come up in Bhubaneswar: Biju Patnaik Rural varsity to co.. http://bit.ly/cBl6t
  • orissalinkskalahandia> New in Ministry of Agriculture Orissa: Horticulture college at Chiplima, agriculture c.. http://bit.ly/FjvJz
  • orissalinksVC of Central Univ of Orissa at Koraput urges center for a medical college http://bit.ly/zbfnq
  • orissalinksTOI: Delhi to set up knowledge city; land earmarked. http://bit.ly/zLQyf Orissa is gifted one but many stupidly oppose.
  • orissalinksXIM Bhubaneswar names its new acad. block as Tata Centenary Learning Centre; Tata Steel contributed about 1 crore to it. http://bit.ly/bwvES

Please consider joining Twitter and following Orissalinks to get similar updates immediately. That site will have original micro-postings (140 characters) as well as the headlines of the Orissalinks, Orissagrowth and Kalahandia blogs.

July 12th, 2009

CCEA approves National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology

Following is from http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=46323.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today gave its approval for a new Centrally sponsored Scheme by the name of National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) submitted by the Ministry of HRD.

An amount of Rs.4612 crore is to be incurred during the 11th Five Year Plan for the National Mission on Education through ICT. There is a budget provision of Rs.502 crore during the current financial year 2008-09.

The National Mission on Education through ICT has been envisaged as a Centrally sponsored Scheme to leverage the potential of ICT, in providing high quality personalized and interactive knowledge modules over the internet/intranet for all the learners in Higher Education Institutions in any time any where mode. This is expected to be a major intervention in enhancing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher Education by 5 percentage points during the XI Five year Plan period and in ensuring access and equity in Higher Education, as also recommended by the Oversight Committee and the National Knowledge Commission. The Mission has two major components viz., (a) content generation and (b) connectivity along with provision for access devices for institutions and learners. It seeks to bridge the digital divide, i.e. the gap in the skills to use computing devices for the purpose of teaching and learning among urban and rural teachers/learners in Higher Education domain and empower those, who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to joint the mainstream of the knowledge economy. It plans to focus on appropriate pedagogy for e-learning, providing facility of performing experiments through virtual laboratories, on-line testing and certification, on-line availability of teachers to guide and mentor learners, utilization of available Education Satellite (EduSAT) and Direct to Home (DTH) platform, training and empowerment of teachers to effectively use the new method of teaching learning etc.

The Mission shall work in close cooperation and collaboration with other Missions/Schemes such as the National Translation Mission, Vocational Education Mission, National Knowledge Network, Scheme of ICT @ Schools etc., to avoid any duplication and attain synergy. It would operate through inter-departmental and multi-disciplinary approach. On the one hand, the Mission would create high quality e-content for the target groups and on the other, it would simultaneously extend computer infrastructure and connectivity to over 18000 colleges in the country including each of the departments of 419 universities/deemed universities and institutions of national importance on a single point rental basis through the Department of Telecommunications (DOT), in a manner that would permit their seamless interaction with a integrated National Knowledge Network. The advent of very low-cost-low-power consuming access cum computing devices, would further enhance the reach of the network. The peer group assisted content development would utilise the wikipaedia type of collaborative platform under the supervision of a content advisory committee responsible for vetting the content. Interactivity and problem solving approach would be addressed through “Talk to a Teacher” segment. The Mission would also have a component of Teacher Empowerment through proper training and digital literacy of teachers to be able to use the e-contents. Renowned institutions would anchor various activities in their areas of excellence. The Mission would seek to enhance the standards of education, in Government as well as in private colleges. Enlistment of support and cooperation of States/Union Territories, Institutions and individual experts would be an integral part of the Mission.

The Mission will ensure that there is no duplication with National Knowledge Network. It will also cater to contents for higher education sector. National Programme of Technology enhanced Learning (NPTEL) Phase II and III will be part of the generation activity.

The Mission would have a three tier committee system to monitor and guide its functioning. The apex National Committee would be chaired by Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development. It would decide on all policy and administrative issues and prescribe guidelines for the functioning of the two sets of Committees namely ‘Empowered Committee of Experts (henceforth shall be called as ‘Project Approval Board’) would be sanctioning individual projects and monitoring the overall progress through various peer reviews and concurrent evaluation.

Ministry of HRD, Deptt. of Higher Education would enter into MoU with State Governments for proper monitoring of the Scheme in their State and contribute 50% of the cost of hardware and 25% of the cost of connectivity in respect of the colleges/institutions/universities maintained or substantially funded by it. Similar MoU would also be entered into with Mentor institutions for private/self-financing colleges/institutions/universities for ensuring that the beneficiary institutions contribute 50% of the cost of hardware and 25% of the cost of connectivity and maintain and sustain the facility created under the Scheme after expire of 5 years.

The projected benefits/results of the Scheme would be enhancement of access to quality education, making available knowledge modules in cyber space and optimal utilization of available resources by using of ICT for educating the masses, especially those inhibited in remotely located areas and places at disadvantage.



1 comment January 3rd, 2009

Higher education reforms planned at the prodding of NKC

Following are excerpts from a report in tathya.in.

Orissa has initiated moves to reform its higher education system, thanks to National Knowledge Commission (NKC) initiative.

The Higher Education department has moved to set up two committees in this regard.

Madhu Sudan Padhi, Commissioner-cum-Secretary Higher Education has moved for setting up the committees to take up reforms of the existing universities.

There are 7 universities under the administrative control of the Higher Education department.

As per guidelines of NKC, in order to bring reforms in the existing academic and examination system, Vice Chancellor of Utkal University will be assigned the job.

NKC has advised the State Governments to ask the universities to revise or restructure curricula at least once in 3 years.

Secondly it has said that annual examination, which tests memory rather than understanding, needs to be supplemented with continuous internal assessment.

NKC proposes a transition to a course credit system where degrees are granted on the basis of completing a requisite number of credits from different course, which provides students with choices.

Universities must become Hub of Research, which is totally absent, said a senior officer.

These are the few guidelines and including others on which the VC committee will prepare the “blueprint” for reforms, said he.

Another committee headed by the Secretary Higher Education will look into to structural reforms including governance, setting up small universities and restructuring the under graduate colleges.

Both the committees will present their report by 15 February, which will form the part of the Blue Print for the state, said he.

I think various state-funded colleges should be combined to form local universities. I will elaborate on this in another post.

December 13th, 2008

UGC recommends 735 additional universities; actions that Orissa needs to take

Following is from a report in Economic Times.

To increase the enrolment rate in higher education, a UGC committee has suggested starting an additional 735 universities in the country during the 11th Plan ending 2012.

The UGC committee, comprising Prof Duraisami of Madras University and Prof Sudhansu Bhusan of National University of Education Planning and Administration, has said that more universities will be needed to increase gross enrolment rate — the percentage of youths in the age group of 18-24 years in higher education — to 15 per cent from the 10 per cent at present.

The committee, set up to suggest reforms on the affiliation system and monitoring of education in 11th plan, has worked out a formula of 20,000 students per university to achieve the target. As per this criteria, the requirement would be 735 universities in the country by 2012, the report said.

"We will study the report and make a final suggestion to the state governments for starting the new varsities," UGC Chairman Prof Sukhadeo Thorat said.

At present there are 388 universities in the country. The committee’s report assumes significance in view of the estimation of National Knowledge Commission last year, when it said that at least 1,500 universities are needed to make India a knowledge society.

The enrolment ratio in higher education is abysmal 10 per cent in India. It is less than eight per cent in states like Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

Orissa’s population is 36,706,920, while India’s population is 1,129,866,154. So Orissa’s population is 3.24% of India’s population. So if India’s universities need to increase to a total of 388+735 = 1123. Then Orissa’s share should be 3.24% of that, which is 36.4. Considering Orissa at less than 8% is behind the national average of 10% in terms of enrolment ratio, Orissa will need to have at least 45.5, or say 46 universities. (This is based on using the 8% number for Orissa. It is actually a little over 6 for Orissa. So another 10 may be needed. But for the 11th plan lets stick with the number 46.)

  • The exisiting universities in Orissa are (13): Utkal, Sambalpur, Berhampur, NOU, FMU, OUAT, KIIT, SOS, Culture U, Ravenshaw, Sri Jagannath, NIT RKL, BPUT.
  • The new universities that are under construction are (8): WCCU, KBK Central, Sri Sri U, Vedanta U, ICFAI, Jagadguru, National Law U, Orissa Open University
  • Some institutes that are operating or under construction and that could become universities are (4): IIIT Bhubaneswar, IIT Bhubaneswar, NISER Bhubaneswar, AIIMS Bhubaneswar
  • Some institutes that may be opened and become universities are (3) : IIIT Berhampur, BITS, NID
  • Some colleges that have applied for deemed university status are (8): Krupajal, CEB, ASBM, Gunupur, Koustuv, Hi-Tech, CV Raman, UCE/OIT.
  • So the state needs to make at least 10 more universities.
    • One should be made in each of the undivided 13 districts which do not have a university yet. The 13 undivided districts are: Puri, Cuttack, Sundargarh, Baleswar, Sambalpur, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Koraput, Phulbani, Dhenkanal, Kendujhar, Ganjam and Mayurbhanj. Among them the five districts of Balangir, Kalahandi (Bhawanipatna), Phulbani, Dhenkanal (Angul) and Kendujhar do not have a university nor any new one has yet been announced. So the state should establish 5 universities, one each in each of these undivided districts.
    • CET Bhubaneswar should be made to a university.
    • A comprehensive university should be established in Rourkela.
    • A Bhubaneswar-Cuttack metropolitan university consisting of all government colleges in the Bhubaneswar and Cuttack area should be made.
    • Berhampur medical college should be made to a unitary health university.
    • A health university encompassing all of Orissa, with possible head quarters in Naraj should be made.
  • During the 12th and 13th plan at least the undivided districts which do not have two universities should get their second one (8): Those would be Baleswar (Bhadrakh), Balangir (Titlagarh), Kalahandi (Nabarangpur), Koraput (Malkangiri), Phulbani (Boudha), Dhenkanal, Kendujhar (Joda) and Mayurbhanj (Bangiriposi).
    • In addition universities may be established in major population centers without an university. These places include (5): Rayagada, Kalinganagar, Paradeep, Parlakhemundi, Jharsuguda,
    • And in districts which do not yet have a university (5): Bargarh, Deogarh, Kendrapada, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Sonepur.

If someone thinks that the above is too many, then they should compare the number of universities in California, whose population,at 36,553,215, is around the same as that of Orissa. However, Orissa’s area at 155,707 sq km is less than 40% of California’s area of 410,000 sq km.

9 comments August 10th, 2008

Knowledge commission recommends four centers for advanced legal studies and research

(Courtsey: http://bbiiser.blogspot.com/)


There is need to set up four autonomous, well networked Centres for Advanced Legal Studies and Research (CALSAR), one in each region, to carry out cutting edge research on various aspects of law and also serve as a think-tank for advising the government in national and international fora. The CALSARs would maintain adequate linkages and institutionalized interaction opportunities with law schools and universities, including continuing legal education for faculty. Some other specific functions and objectives of these centres would include: publishing a peer reviewed journal of international quality; facilitating multi disciplinary approaches to law; institutionalizing arrangements for scholars in residence; organizing workshops and undertaking in-depth research on new and developing areas of law. Each CALSAR would require an initial investment of around Rs. 50 crore to build an academic complex, conference facilities, a world-class library and other infrastructure. These institutes would also need to be provided with an annual budget to the tune of Rs. 5 crore for salaries, fellowships, administrative expenses and related expenses. The initial investment and the annual budgets should be borne by the central and respective state governments (that would host the CALSAR) respectively, but the CALSARs should gradually aim at financial self-sustenance, through innovative financial method

June 18th, 2008


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